Welcome back from reading period, everyone. It seems like every time sixth week swings around, it is just the right time for a long weekend to decompress and recharge before the last few stressful weeks of term, hence why many people go home after classes on Wednesday.
However, if you are, like me, in the approximately 7% of the Lawrence student body that does not live in Wisconsin, Chicagoland or the Twin Cities, taking a break from studies can only be so healing when you are still trapped on campus. After all, when you are on your break from The Grind™, it’s not exactly relaxing to sip your morning coffee in the same spot where you were writing three papers until 2 a.m. a few days ago. Thus, I urge you to take your reading periods to go on an adventure! Try something new! Whatever you do, get out of Appleton! Big and small, here are some ideas for your next vacation.
For those with limited transportation or small windows of open time, plan a day trip! Although Wisconsin may not be the most bustling, busy place, there are still many attractions around. When I’ve been feeling cooped up on campus, I find that I benefit most from getting in touch with nature, and there are quite a few places where one can access that in a two-hour-drive radius. Only about 20 minutes away is High Cliff State Park, which has peaceful trails and, believe it or not, high cliffs perfect for your next Instagram post. Further away is Rib Mountain Park over by Wausau with long paths to walk and an observation tower at the top of the climb with a stellar view (highly recommend getting there around sunset). And of course, what would a list of nature attractions in Wisconsin be without a mention of Door County? A trip to Bjork is an easy way of getting up there, but if you just want a day trip, try visiting Algoma for a walk along the lake shoreline. These trips are all quick and simple, but very satisfying. They may not keep you away from the hustle and bustle of student life for long, but the experience will be worth it in the end.
If you have a little more time on your hands, go bolder than a short there-and-back trip! Lawrence is not too far from the big cities, as I mentioned before, so see if you can spend a weekend exploring your urban landscape of choice. Right behind the city center is the Greyhound station, and although buses are limited, there’s usually a route that can fit your schedule to Milwaukee, Chicago or the Twin Cities. And if you have friends in these places, see if they can help you out! Transportation and housing are not always cheap, especially if you do not have the opportunity to plan far ahead, so think about who you are close to and see if they will be willing to lend a hand (do try to compensate them somehow though). While you are in the city, go try new foods, see museums that interest you, or just walk around and live like a local! Escape routine and enjoy the break in your usual pattern.
If you are really feeling adventurous for reading period, take the plunge and really go way out there! Now, international travel (with the exception of Canada and maybe Mexico) is not what I have in mind, but take a plane somewhere exciting! Pack your bathing suit and go see one of the coasts, don your hiking books and climb the mountains in the West or lose yourself in New York, Washington D.C. or San Francisco. These are certainly not cheap, and often time-intensive, but if you think you need it, make it happen! You can save up some money working during the term or over your breaks, and if you need to stay for longer than four days, what are one or two missed classes? Everyone deserves mental health days and this is just one of the forms they can take. Of course, do not get too carried away — some trips are better saved for breaks or certain seasons — but if it works for you, take advantage of the opportunity!
Perhaps this article would have served better if published prior to reading period, but right now reading period is fresh on your mind, and you can accurately think about the break and what you need out of it. Take some time this weekend to brainstorm what you want to do for the winter and even for the spring; your future self will not regret it.